Colin Kaepernick, Citizen of the Year? What A Country!

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He seeks the end of oppression, but causes division.

He wants to change the system, but he did not vote.

He wants respect for all (I think), but then ridicules others.

Introducing your Citizen of the Year, Colin Kaepernick.


The source of the “honor” bestowed on Kaepernick – the former NFL quarterback, known for kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality – is GQ Magazine.

Call up the magazine website and read the story, along with other GQ fare, like:

“Why Boogers Happen, and How to Get Rid of Them”

“All That Exercise You’re Doing Could Make You Bad at Sex”

“A-Rod and His Excellent Top Coat are the Real Power Couple Here” 

O.K., so maybe the boogers story is helpful. The exercise/sex story plays right into the stereotype of a men’s magazine playlist. And I’ve said enough about the power couple featuring A-Rod.

Why GQ feels it has the need – and the credibility – to choose a Citizen of the Year is up for debate. But, hey, how many articles about sweaters can you write? (There is a timely article about “10 Lightweight Cardigans to Layer Under Every Kind of Suit Jacket” in the December issue.)

Choosing Kaepernick means controversy, which means publicity. Good marketing. The choice certainly stirs emotion (cue Kyle S. Reyes).

The GQ article is intriguing. Kaepernick cooperates with the photo shoot, but is not quoted. Instead, 10 “confidants” are interviewed.

There are no opposing viewpoints. The subject is referred to as “Colin” and not “Kaepernick” or “Mr. Kaepernick.”

The article claims Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL because of his protest. But he is no longer the talented quarterback he once was, when leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013. Kaepernick’s quarterback rating declined, and he lost his starting job. Kaepernick opted out of the final year of his contract (2017), but the 49ers said they would have cut him anyway.

Kaepernick is now 30 – not too old to play, but no kid anymore, either. Often, older quarterbacks find a team that could use a veteran backup. But what team wants the distraction Kaepernick would bring? He might be worth it as a starter on the rise, not a backup in decline.

Concerning Kaepernick’s protest, I addressed that in September, when the kneeling became a trend and then a circus with President Donald Trump chiming in. Protesting is a right. But, as I wrote then, these protesters only have that right because they live in a free country, and the flag they are disrespecting represents that freedom – as well as most of the people who watch their games.

Bottom line:  There must be a better way to elevate consciousness, instead of angering those who value the flag and what it symbolizes. Kaepernick’s action unnecessarily caused division.

Interestingly, Mr. Kaepernick, the Citizen of the Year, did not bother to vote in the last election. That prompted more criticism, including a rebuke by another former NFLer, Warren Dunn.

Dunn said Kaepernick “started a conversation” but, by not voting, “everything he stood for and did, he threw out the window.”

Dunn lost his mother, a single parent, in a shooting involving police. But his mother was the police officer. Betty Smothers was ambushed by a man, who shot into her cruiser, killing her in 1993. Dunn was 18 at the time, the oldest of six children.

Dunn’s response was to take care of his siblings. Once he became a pro football player, he established the Warren Dunn Foundation, which helps single-parent families. That includes housing. The foundation’s mission:  “To provide hope and healing to communities through innovative programming.”

What is Kaepernick’s mission? He has begun sharing his wealth through his own foundation, but is there healing along with the division? The donations go to “organizations working in oppressed communities.” He’s aided single-parent families, and he’s given to organizations like “Assata’s Daughters,” a group that “carries on the tradition of radical liberatory activism encompassed by Assata Shakur.”

Shakur, then a member of the Black Liberation Army, was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper and wounding another in 1973. She escaped prison in 1979 and is living in Cuba.

Some tradition.

What does Kaepernick think of police? Maybe his answer came when he infamously was photographed wearing socks which featured the drawings of pigs in police uniforms.

He insults police. He does not vote. His platform begins with disrespect.

GQ has a unique definition of citizenship. 


Kevin Thomas is a writer and former teacher, living with his wife and children in Standish, Maine.